Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

The etymology of the name Caesar and Gaius

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 10, 2015

The etymology of the name Caesar is still unknown and was subject to many interpretations even in antiquity. The suffix –ar was highly unusual for the Latin language, which might imply a non-Latin origin of the name.

In the city state of Ashur, the hereditary ruler bore the Akkadian language version of the title énsi, while the patron deity was regarded as šarrum (“King”).

The cuneiform sign LUGAL serves as a determinative in cuneiform texts (Sumerian, Akkadian and Hittite), indicating that the following word is the name of a king. In Akkadian orthography, it may also be a syllabogram šàr, acrophonically based on the Akkadian for “king”, šarrum.

Lugal is used extensively in the Amarna letters, for addressing the kings or pharaohs, and elsewhere in speaking about the various kings.

One common address, in the introduction of many letters, from the vassals writing to the pharaoh was to use: Šàr-ri, (for šarrum); they used Lugal + ri = Šàr-ri, (i.e. Pharaoh, or King of, Ancient Egypt). (Ri (cuneiform) is one of the more commonly used hieroglyphs, in many cases for the use of the “r” ). In Sumerian the names Anšar and Kišar literally mean “the entirety of heavens” and “the entirety of earth.”

In Sumerian the SAR word also means to enclose. Similarly SA means inner, while SAG means inside. Sar also meant 3600 in Sumerian, which was the closing of the circle and is related to the somewhat idealized period of 360 days in a year. It was the Sumerians who first divided the circle into 360 degrees.

Sargon of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great “the Great King” (Akkadian Šarru-kīnu, meaning “the true king” or “the king is legitimate”), was a Semitic Akkadian emperor famous for his conquest of the Sumerian city-states in the 24th and 23rd centuries BC.The name ‘Sargon’ means ‘the king is legitimate’ in Akkadian.

Gaius, sometimes spelled Caius, was a common Latin praenomen; see Gaius (praenomen). It is abbreviated C.; the abbreviation goes back to before the Roman alphabet distinguished between C and G, probably from Etruscan Cae or Cai, meaning unknown. In classical times, the name was pronounced in three syllables, Gā-ǐ-us [ˈɡaː.ɪ.ʊs].

It is also possible that the use of C reflects the Greek letter Gamma.

Gaius is an archaic Latin name and one of the earliest Roman praenomina. Before the introduction of the letter ‘G’ into the Latin alphabet, i.e. before the censorship of Appius Claudius Caecus in 312 BC, the name was only written as Caius. The old spelling remained valid in later times and existed alongside Gaius, especially in the form of the abbreviation C.

The only known original Roman etymology of Gaius is expressed as a gaudio parentum, meaning that the name Gaius stems from the Latin verb gaudere (“to rejoice”, “to be glad”).

This etymology is commonly seen as incorrect, and the origin of Gaius is often stated as still unknown.

Some have linked the name to an unknown Etruscan phrase, others to the gentilician name Gavius, which possibly might have lost the medial v in the course of time. But no supporting evidence has been found to this day.

The most promising explanation can however be found in the folk-etymological derivation from the Greek word γαῖα (gaîa, “earth”), specifically γῆ (“gê”) or γᾶ (“gâ”), which is supported by the Roman vow of marriage that the fiancée had to give: Ubi tu Caius et ego Caia. (“Where you [will be], Gaius, likewise I [will be], Gaia).

By the inclusion of Gaius and Gaia in the vow, the two names could of course be identified simply as “man” and “woman”. But since the vow was originally an archaic rural ceremony, the vernacular explanation by the Romans, who had always been farmers, will have been “woman of the Earth” and “man of the Earth”, referring also to the agricultural property of the family.

Ki means “Earth” in ancient Sumerian. Cuneiform KI is the sign for “earth”. It is also read as GI, GUNNI (=KI.NE) “hearth”, KARAŠ (=KI.KAL.BAD) “encampment, army”, KISLAḪ (=KI.UD) “threshing floor” or steath, and SUR (=KI.GAG). In Akkadian orthography, it functions as a determiner for toponyms and has the syllabic values gi, ge, qi, and qe.

As an earth goddess in Sumerian mythology, Ki was the chief consort of An, the sky god. In some legends[citation needed] Ki and An were brother and sister, being the offspring of Anshar (“Sky Pivot”) and Kishar (“Earth Pivot”), earlier personifications of heaven and earth.

By her consort Anu, Ki gave birth to the Anunnaki, the most prominent of these deities being Enlil, god of the air. According to legends, heaven and earth were once inseparable until Enlil was born; Enlil cleaved heaven and earth in two. An carried away heaven. Ki, in company with Enlil, took the earth.

Some authorities question whether Ki was regarded as a deity since there is no evidence of a cult and the name appears only in a limited number of Sumerian creation texts. Samuel Noah Kramer identifies Ki with the Sumerian mother goddess Ninhursag and claims that they were originally the same figure.

She later developed into the Babylonian and Akkadian goddess Antu, consort of the god Anu (from Sumerian An). Uraš or Urash, in Sumerian mythology is a goddess of earth, and one of the consorts of the sky god Anu. She is the mother of the goddess Ninsun and a grandmother of the hero Gilgamesh.

However, Uras may only have been another name for Antum, Anu’s wife. The name Uras even became applied to Anu himself, and acquired the meaning “heaven”. Ninurta also was apparently called Uras in later times.

In Akkadian mythology, Antu or Antum is a Babylonian goddess. She was the first consort of Anu, and the pair was the parents of the Anunnaki and the Utukki. Antu was replaced as consort by Ishtar or Inanna, who may also be a daughter of Anu and Antu.

Antu was a dominant feature of the Babylonian akit festival until as recently as 200 BC, her later pre-eminence possibly attributable to identification with the Greek goddess Hera, the wife and one of three sisters of Zeus in the Olympian pantheon of Greek mythology and religion.

Hera was as the goddess of women and marriage. Her counterpart in the religion of ancient Rome was Juno. The cow, lion and the peacock were considered sacred to her. Hera’s mother is Rhea and her father Cronus.

Juno is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister (but also the wife) of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Juno also looked after the women of Rome. Her Etruscan counterpart was Uni, the supreme goddess of the Etruscan pantheon and the patron goddess of Perugia.

Juno’s own warlike aspect among the Romans is apparent in her attire. She often appeared sitting pictured with a peacock armed and wearing a goatskin cloak. The traditional depiction of this warlike aspect was assimilated from the Greek goddess Hera, whose goatskin was called the ‘aegis’.

Uni appears in the Etruscan text on the Pyrgi Tablets as the translation of the Phoenician goddess Astarte or Ashtoreth, the Hellenized form of the Middle Eastern goddess Ishtar, worshipped from the Bronze Age through classical antiquity.

Among the pre-roman Latin tribes, the goddess was worshipped as Uni: a single triad made up of the maiden Juventas, the mother Juno, and the wise Minerva. Later, the Etruscans and early Romans, as we have seen, substituted the chief god Jupiter for Juventas, creating another kind of triad altogether. With her husband Tinia and Menrva, she was part of a powerful triad.

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